Wrap up Treasures from the South Carolina Back Roads

By:Page Ivey


South Carolina holiday gifts
Sweetgrass baskets instantly make any table a little more Southern.

From sweetgrass baskets in the Lowcountry to Clemson blue cheese in the Upstate, South Carolina’s byways are home to perfect holiday gift options. Here are five ways to give a merry South Carolina Christmas.

  1. Sweetgrass baskets. As synonymous with the South as grits, peach ice cream and heat, these intricately woven baskets handmade by generations of women — and men — turn indigenous bulrush grass into art. Get them in person at many roadside stands throughout the Lowcountry, at the Charlest​on City Market or online at charlest​onsweetgrass.com.

  2. Pawleys Island rope hammocks. The gift that lasts a lifetime, these all-cotton hammocks are still made by hand just as they were in the late 19th century when South Carolina riverboat Capt. Joshua John Ward designed them to help him and his crewmates keep cool on their boats during the steamy summer nights. Visit the Hammock Shops at 10880 US 17 in Pawleys Island or visit hammocksho​p.com.

  3. Clemson blue cheese. Some of the strongest, most flavorful cheese you will ever taste was developed by a Clemson dairy professor who cured his first batches in Stumphouse Tunnel in 1940, where the temperature and humidity were perfect. Operations were moved indoors in 1958, but the cheese has kept its distinctive flavor and is rated among the best blue cheeses in the nation by the US Championship Cheese Contest in Green Bay, Wisconsin. Order in person at the ’55 Exchange in Clemson, by phone at 864.656.3242.

  4. Blenheim Ginger Ale. Taste the spiciest ginger ale you will ever drink. You can try the hot (red cap), not as hot (gold cap) and diet (white cap). It all started back in the 1800s when Dr. C.R. May advised his patients to drink the local mineral water from a spring near Blenheim to help with stomach upset. To mask the strong taste of the water, May added Jamaican ginger. In 1903, May teamed with A.J. Matheson to create the Blenheim Bottling Co. Sold only in glass bottles, the ginger ale is available at various stores around the country, and on​line.

  5. Edgefield Pottery. Made famous 200 years ago by a slave potter named Dave, Edgefield Pottery has developed cachet in recent years as the story of the potter and artisan community Dave lived in has spread. The pottery is unique for its alkaline glaze. You can find modern examples of this at several locations in Edgefield, including Old Edgefield Po​ttery and Jane Bess P​ottery. Antique pieces can be found online for a pretty heady price. 

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